Diving in: A Day w/ the Swim Team

The swim season is in full swing again, and the lanes are packed! The turnout of returning and complete beginning swimmers have left the coaches in amazement and excitement for the swimmers this year. Today, we will take a deep dive into the world of these flying fish.


The swim essentials — goggles, swim cap, a towel, and hydration!

Before a swimmer can even step foot into the water, they need to gear up. A proper bathing suit, a swim cap, and efficient swim goggles are essential. Other items – such as a towel and water bottle – are nice to have post-workout (drinking the pool water is NOT recommended!). 

Students on the team do not wear their official Highland swimsuits until there is a competition. This reduced wear keeps the suit as tight as possible, which is key to gliding in the water as fast as possible. So students wear various suits during regular practice – from Nike to other swim-focused brands like TYR and Speedo. 

Due to the shift in school hours, Swimmers without a ride to the Bakersfield College pool typically wait an hour for the swim bus. During this off time, many chat with friends or get homework done. Twice a week, this extra hour is replaced with a weight room practice led by Coach Prasser! Speaking of the coaches…

Meet the Coaches

This year, the Highland swim team boasts three coaches – two returning and one new. 

Coach Prasser is Highland Alumni and teaches 11th grade English. He started swim as a Freshman at Highland and quickly worked his way up to earn a sports scholarship. Prasser pays especially careful attention to form and technique when coaching his swimmers. Above all else, though, he believes in pushing boundaries. Encouraging students to have “mental toughness,” Coach Prasser never shies away from a difficult workout, and even hops in the pool to rough it out with students on occasion. Even on weekends, you’ll find Prasser thinking up new skills for his team to tackle or going for a swim himself at the McMurtrey Pool.

Coach Hamilton demonstrating a smoother stroke to the Varsity members

Coach Hamilton also has a distinguished background in the sport, specializing in Butterfly, the toughest swim stroke! She works on campus as a Speech Pathologist. As students wait for the bus, you’ll often find her connecting with and catching up with them. Encouraging and enthusiastic, Coach Hamilton’s energy quickly rubs off on students and pushes them to give swimming their all. 

The new Coach this year is Larissa Martinez, a recent Independence High School graduate, and many swimmers have already welcomed her with open arms. She loves coaching already and is excited to see swimmers accelerate their skills throughout the season. Larissa decided to coach because she wants to be a really good coach like the ones she had – hoping to give back to the community in the same way the community has given to her, Larissa can provide a fresh perspective on swim. She has a bold personality and is swift in communication, making her an excellent addition to the team. 

Arriving at BC

For the students who take the swim bus, time is often cut close. Swimmers either make it exactly at 5:30 or a bit after – rarely on time! So, arriving at the pool is a naturally hectic time. The Coaches set swimmers off with little time to spare. You’ll see swimmers bustling all around – peeling socks off and thrusting swim caps on! If a swimmer forgot a cap or goggles, quickly another lends them a spare. Some swimmers are notorious for breaking their swim caps, too! A beginner this year, Vursayah M., confessed to us that they stole a friend’s goggles for the day!

Then, straight into the pool, they go to do a 200 warm-up before the official workout begins. A 200 is four full laps around, or eight 25-yard lengths worth of swimming in freestyle. 

In the Pool

The swim lanes are currently split into three – that is the varsity, junior varsity, and frosh/soph. Coaches rotate around to ensure they all get a chance to work with the different groups of swimmers. 

Getting out of the pool is more difficult than it seems!

This year, the frosh/soph team is large, with many dipping their toes in the water for the very first time. More experienced swimmers all agree that the fundamentals of swim are of utmost importance. So, the beginning swimmers are focusing on these things. Taking a breath when underwater, improving lung capacity, and mastering strokes are no easy feat. Truly, it can be said that the hardest time in swim is getting the hang of things. We commemorate the swimmers who may not know everything yet but are pushing themselves! 

In swim, there are four basic strokes: freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke. They’re all vastly different. For butterfly and breast, swimmers do take their heads out of the water to take a quick breath in. For backstroke, their head is already above water – this makes it a comfortable experience for most, but many struggle with direction and often swerve in the pools (which is a grave mistake that can cause disqualification in competitions). Freestyle, the most common stroke, requires swimmers to lift only half of their head to take a breath. 

Swimmers often specialize in a stroke or distance. There are also relays for those who can skillfully swim all strokes. When done correctly, the butterfly stroke is one of the most beautiful to watch in how swimmers seem to just gracefully cut across the water. The most exciting event to watch is the 500 – 20 lengths of 25 yards! It is one of the longest events, but it is the one that brings the whole team together to cheer on the swimmer. Usually, there will be one person with a counter board to keep track of laps, waving it in the water so the swimmer keeps track as well.

Meet the Captains

This year’s swim Captains are Faith R. (11) and Hayden G. (12)

Faith was the Girl’s Captain last year as well. She has competed in Water Polo for Highland in the past and she also practices this sport for a club. Very dedicated and graceful in the water, Faith is definitely one to watch during competitions!

This is Hayden’s first year as captain of the swim team. He has also done Water Polo and club swimming too. 

What’s Next for Swim?

Even having just started, our swim team already has great potential for the spring season. Their first meet/competition will be on February 16th at Garces – definitely send your support out to a swimmer you know that day! These meets are long-stretched, starting at around 2-3 PM and ending after 4-5 hours! On a meet day, you’ll be able to spot students clad in their new official Highland Swimsuit (this year, a camouflage green!) and swim caps. We are excited for the upcoming swim meets this tight-knit group will dominate in. 

If you are interested in joining the team, it may not be too late! Please discuss with Coach Hamilton or Coach Prasser to see if swimming may be right for you!

Swim fast!

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